Could the US Government Shutdown Impact Immigration Processing?
At the time of writing, it is looking increasingly probable that there will be some form of US government shutdown from October 1, 2023.
Federal funding is due to run out on September 30, 2023, unless Congress votes to pass either a stopgap spending bill or certain appropriation bills for the start of the new financial year on October 1.
While negotiations are ongoing, it is worth considering the potential impact of a shutdown on US immigration and nationality processing.
A government shutdown would result in thousands of federal government employees being furloughed. This means they would not attend work and would not be paid during the period of closure (although furloughed workers’ salaries are then paid retroactively when the shutdown ends).
As such, a government shutdown will directly impact US public services, including some US visa and nationality application processing.
At this stage, we would expect the biggest impact among immigration agencies to be at the Department of Labor, due to a suspension of “non-essential” immigration functions. This could mean PERM, LCAs and prevailing wage processing are suspended either until stopgap funding is passed, or until the shutdown is brought to an end.
Some passport offices and processing may also be affected if they are based within federal buildings that are closed during the shutdown.
Departments which are not expected to be affected include Customs and Border Protection (CBP), with officials continuing to process applications at the border, and USCIS which, as it is funded by application fees, should continue to process petitions and applications – although these may be subject to delay where adjudication is dependent on a different agency that has been suspended.
USCIS’ E-Verify program and Conrad 30 are also set to expire if not specifically extended by Congress. While employers will not be able to utilize E-Verify during this time, they remain subject to the Form I-9 requirements, although E-Verify deadlines will not have to be met until the program has been reauthorized by Congress. Employers are advised to proceed with caution and take advice where an employee cannot be verified using E-Verify as a result of the shutdown.
This article does not constitute direct legal advice and is for informational purposes only.